Former bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, who is always going on about how we all should behave ourselves, is in serious danger of being accused of gross hypocrisy following his (what could easily be construed as) pulling of strings to get his own way concerning a property dispute with his neighbour (who, he doesn't appear to love in the slightest).


A couple have been ordered to take down a decked balcony after a former Bishop of Rochester complained. Jamie Beadle spent more than £5,000 putting up the 10ft-high wooden decking at the home he shares with his wife Nicola and three children in The Ridgeway, Chatham. But it sparked the ire of next-door neighbour Dr Michael Nazir-Ali. When the Beadles were told to apply for retrospective planning permission, the Nazir-Alis lodged the only formal complaint.

Councillors unanimously denied planning permission for the decking, which was recommended for approval by their own planning officers. The officers would have had the final say, but the decision was taken out of their hands after ward councillor Trevor Clarke escalated the issue to the planning committee. Cllr Clarke, a Churches Together in Medway columnist who has publicly supported the bishop on other issues, referred the application as part of standard planning rules. None of the 15 committee members declared an interest at the meeting.

Jamie, who spent months building the decking, said he had been in contact with the council throughout the scheme. He said: “When the planning officer came round I said ‘is this going to be a problem?’ and they said it would probably be more of a box-ticking exercise. That was six months ago and it’s dragged on since then. I feel quite strongly that every citizen has an equal right to fair treatment, and in this case I feel I have not been treated equally.”

Property disputes and fundamentalist Christians seem to go together like a Tesco beef burger and carriage.